A quality legal representation in a criminal case mandates the payment of a reasonable fee. “Reasonable”, as that term is used here, is not a “static” concept. It rather is dependent upon a number of factors, including the nature, severity and complexity of the charge, where the matter is brought (we routinely represent citizens throughout the State of Florida), what law enforcement agency, either State or federal, spearheaded the investigation, and even which Judge is assigned the case and which Prosecutor is selected to handle the matter for the Government.
Perhaps more importantly, the ‘reasonableness’ of a fee is dependent upon the lawyer selected to do undertake the representation. Different lawyers have different levels of experience, talent, knowledge of the local area, legal expertise, and track records. The practice of law is an art where success depends, as much as in any other art, upon the application of ingenuity, imagination, and sometimes even inspiration.
Establishing a fee is a unique process—as unique as the fact pattern involved in each and every criminal prosecution. Some of the considerations utilized by our firm in establishing a “reasonable” fee are:
- The time and labor expected to be required. (Fort Pierce Criminal cases are rarely if ever charged ‘by the hour’, but rather involve a “flat” fee, and, dependent upon the individual case, trial fees and, in some cases, a flat fee combined with an hourly rate, should the case exceed certain parameters).
- The novelty, complexity and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill level of the lawyer performing the services.
- The likelihood that the engagement will act to preclude other employment by the lawyer.
- The fees charged by other, similarly situated counsel for legal services of a similar nature.
- The experience, reputation, diligence and ability of the Lawyer performing the service, and the skill, expertise and efficiency demonstrated throughout the course of the engagement.
In a criminal prosecution, the client faces the ultimate sanction—-loss of his or her liberty. The choosing of counsel is an important decision; one with profound consequences, and one which should be carefully and thoughtfully made after deliberation. The decision of which counsel to retain ought not be relegated to one of ‘going with the lowest bidder’—–the stakes are far too high.
FEES IN FAMILY LAW CASES
Unlike in criminal law cases, family law cases require the posting of a “retainer”, and is incrementally time-billed by the tenth of every hour. Our firm charges an initial retainer of $6,500.00 for us to become involved in any family law matter, and is billed at the rate of $375.00 per hour for attorney time expended, and $125.00 per hour for paralegal time. The terms of the retainer agreement are available upon request.
FEES IN PERSONAL INJURY MATTERS
Serious Personal Injury cases have yet a third type of billling, known as “contingent fee” billing. In contingency fee cases, the lawyer essentially works for “free” in obtaining a judgment or settlement for her/his client, and then as remuneration, charges a percentage of the recovery. Typically, the lawyer may be payed thirty-three percent (33%) of any recovery made prior to the point an “Answer” is filed in the lawsuit, and forty percent (40%) after that point. The contingency fee system allows those injured by another’s negligence to have access to the Court system, even though they might not otherwise be able to afford competent representation. Again, a sample Florida Bar Approved contingency fee agreement is available upon request.